August 29, 2013 Will Sirotnak
Forecast: Connecticut, Rhode Island
The transition from late summer to fall is taking place in the coastal waters of the northeast. This time of year is considered by many anglers to be the best as a smorgasbord of available bait makes saltwater angling opportunities more than plentiful.
Rhode Island Fishing Report
The fishing in upper Narragansett Bay has continued to improve as water temperatures continue their steady decline. According to Greg at The Tackle Box in Warwick, Pogies have moved north of Providence Point and hungry stripers and big bluefish have been right there to greet them. Anglers fishing in and around pogy schools have scored quality bass in the early morning hours and slammer bluefish have been plentiful throughout the day. In other news the scup fishing remains excellent in the upper bay while keeper fluke have made an appearance in the shallower waters of the bay.
At Galilee Bait and Tackle in Narragansett, Howard reported that cow-sized stripers have continued to take up residence in the reefs and rips around Block Island. He recently weighed in a 45 pound specimen which is just one of the many large bass that has fallen to anglers fishing the island’s waters this season. Along with the bass there are also hoards of bluefish around the island so be sure to pack plenty of bait if you’re making the journey out there. Bonito continue to pop up with relative consistency both at Block Island and in inshore waters and the first reports of false albacore at the breakwalls in Point Judith are coming in. Black sea bass and fluke reports continue to be positive with plenty of quality fish of both species coming in from the deep water around the island. Another great, and often under-utilized, angling opportunity is the late-summer tautog season. These tasty bottom-feeders have started moving onto the shallow rock piles in the area and some local anglers have started to cash in on the strong bite. Howard has seen quite a few quality tog come through the shop this week including a 10.2 pound monster that was weighed in Monday.
At Quaker Lane Bait and Tackle in North Kingstown, Steve was happy to report that he had recovered from his back injury and was looking forward to hitting the surf over the next couple of nights. While the fish have been on the smaller side, Steve reported that the striped bass surf bite has picked up along most of Rhode Island’s south shore. With the moon shrinking more and more each day the bite should continue to improve and this weekend is shaping up to be a good one for the surf crowd. Steve also reiterated the fact that the striped bass fishing around Block Island remains hot and heavy. Just this Wednesday Steve weighed in a 47-pound linesider taken in the area of the island’s Southwest Ledge. Some of the bonito that have been so prevalent in Block Island Sound have moved in closer to shore this week; as a few of Steve’s customers had great success with the bones around Watch Hill and the adjacent reefs. As seems to be the case across New England, the scup bite has really taken off as Steve reported that limits have been easy to obtain and fish upwards of two pounds have been commonplace.
Down at Watch Hill Outfitters in Westerly, Mike was also happy to report that bonito have moved into the area and have been actively feeding on butterfish along Watch Hill Reef and Sugar Reef. A few of Mike’s customers were fresh off a trip to Montauk Wednesday morning; where they found a load of cooperative false albacore. With the abundance of butterfish in Long Island Sound and Rhode Island waters it won’t be long before these speedsters start driving fisherman crazy locally. Mike reported that the striped bass fishing has slowed a bit over the last few days but that the bite was excellent in and around the full moon. Multiple large bass were taken from the local reefs over the weekend including a 51.9-pound beauty caught by Harrison Barlow. Truly a fish of a lifetime as it not only eclipsed the coveted 50-pound mark, it was caught while fluking on super-light tackle.
Connecticut Fishing Report
At Hillyer’s Bait and Tackle in Waterford, Matt announced that the stellar fluke season in the eastern sound is finally starting to slow down. Angler’s are still managing some quality flatfish but with a bit less consistency than in previous weeks. As has been the case most of this season, larger fluke have continued to come from deeper water and Matt recommended sticking to the deep water off Black Point and Watch Hill Reef for your best shot at a doormat. If you make it to Watch Hill have your light-tackle spin gear handy as a few of Matt’s customers have found success with bonito in that area this week. The longer, cooler nights have started to drop water temperatures in the eastern sound and the stripers have responded. Reports of better catches have been coming in from Bartlett’s Reef, Black Point and The Race, with live eels after dark still providing the best opportunity for a cow. Scup fishing remains excellent on all the eastern sound rock piles and anglers have not struggled to put together limits of bigger-than-normal scup. For anglers looking to wet a line in Niantic Bay, the snapper bluefish remain plentiful and are increasing in size.
At River’s End in Old Saybrook, Pat has also noticed a slight increase in positive striper reports over the past few days. The abundance of butterfish from Watch Hill to central Long Island Sound has got bass on the feed at nearly all the reefs within that stretch. 30-40 inch bass have also been reported at The Race, Plum Gut and Long Sand Shoal this week. There’s still plenty of bunker around the mouth of the CT River and anglers who have livelined freshies have had the most success at the aforementioned spots. Pat reported tons of bluefish in the area although most are of the 4-6 pound variety, with 10+ pounders being fairly scarce. Focus on the mouths of the tidal rivers, specifically those holding bunker, for your best chance to land a true gator blue. Pat reported excellent scup fishing at all the local rock piles and a decent fluke bite is still taking happening off Black Point and Montauk Point. Like the Niantic River, the CT River is loaded with snapper bluefish and they are quickly increasing in size.
Andrew, of The Fishin Factory 3 in Middletown, had more of the same to report. While he hasn’t seen many larger bass, plenty of his customers have been scoring quality keepers drifting live bunker at Long Sand Shoal and Bartlett’s Reef. The scup fishing has been the best Andrew has seen in quite some time and he was able to load up on a bag of keepers at Watch Hill this week, with most exceeding 15 inches. Locally the fluke fishing has started to slow down and Andrew believes the flatties are starting to move around into their fall transition grounds. Andrew has heard some excellent fluke reports from Block Island this week and recommends making the trek out there if you are a true fluke die-hard.
Mike Roy of Reel Cast Charters saw the recent full moon as an excellent opportunity to make the run out to Block Island this past weekend. Mike was happy to report that the fishing remains stellar around the island, as he was able to put his clients on 9 bass from 30-40 pounds and many others in the mid-20 pound class. Earlier this week Mike fished close to home and pitched live eels in the shallows of eastern Long Island Sound after dark. Mike was rewarded with two bass over the 30-pound mark and few other quality 20-pound class fish. As the nights get longer and darker the shallow water striper bite will undoubtedly heat up, Mike anticipates some great fishing this weekend and early next week.
The western sound report from Danny at Fisherman’s World in Norwalk, was similar to that of the eastern sound. Danny reported a sharp increase in the striped bass and bluefishing over the last few days. Diamond jigging for bass and blues has been very consistent in the usual hotspots, while fluke fishing remains steady in the deeper water around 28C and 11B. Like the rest of the eastern seaboard, the scup fishing in the western sound is stellar and most keepers have far exceeded legal size.
Best Bets for the Weekend
Striped bass and bluefish are plentiful but once again those looking to score some cow bass with consistency should consider heading to Block Island. If you’ve been thinking about making the trip to the island now is the time, as the unsettled and sometimes rough fall weather is only a few weeks away. For the anglers out there who spend all summer dreaming about drag killing false albacore, your time has come. The albies are at Montauk, which is historically their first stop before they invade our local waters for the month of September. They should be here any day now and if you can find them before anyone else does your chances of hooking up will increase exponentially. Just about every species that the New England coastal waters has to offer is now here, get out this weekend and take advantage.